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Champions of Change - Deloris Irving

Kathryn Young Thompson

Communi-cating and connecting has proven to be a critical part of the process in achieving educational reform and growth.  On the local level, coordinating college and career nights, working with math, science and technology events (Parent Universities) and providing information and leadership training has assisted in bringing parents and community stakeholders to schools.  The partnerships that were “birthed” are ongoing and productive for all, especially the students. College recruiters and community members from every walk of life have come together to share their knowledge and expertise. resulting in job opportunities, college placements and networking opportunities that are invaluable.

A recent partnership with MS PIRC and MS PTI brought several hundred parents, students and community leaders together to get a better understanding of the rights of parents and students with disabilities and special needs, state testing, and legislative priorities pertaining to education.  Students were given much-needed school supplies and books that they could carry home.  A computer was donated to the parent center.  Special emphasis was placed on reading in an effort to improve literacy and reading scores on state tests.

As MS PTA President, I am working with a team to travel across the state to present the Common Core State Standards Initiative.  Parents, students, teachers, and community leaders are given an opportunity through community meetings, PTA meetings, church meetings and other venues to receive information that empowers them to work better with their children and the school district.

Partnering with other associations and organizations strengthens our efforts to improve the quality of life in our state. Making every child’s potential a reality means addressing issues of bullying, male involvement, parent and family engagement, obesity, technology, economic competitiveness, and resource management – to name a few. Attending the MOM Congress conference with delegates from each state, the District of Colombia, and professionals from several fields of expertise who have shared vision and are passionate advocates for children and education was informative and motivational. Having had the opportunity to share Mississippi’s concerns with The White House Office of Public Engagement is encouraging and validating in this season of education reform.

We will not get mired down in the negatives, but will keep our eyes on the horizons.   In retrospect, we will not forget our history and where we have come from; with introspect, we see clearly where we are in this country and globally; and with prospect – the future is bright in the areas of educational achievement, college and career ready high school graduates, economic revitalization, and racial reconciliation.  

This post was originally written for the White House Champions of Change series.  Deloris Irving is the Mississippi PTA president and the 2010 Mom Congress from Mississippi.